Every new arrival wants to know if they can survive or live well in Thailand on X thousand baht a month?

It's a difficult question because each person has different needs. However, the following surveys and figures are from teachers actually working here! How much do they earn and what do they spend their money on?. And after each case study, I've added comments of my own.

Submit your own Cost of Living survey

Approximate Thai Baht (฿) conversion rates as of 22nd April 2019

฿32 to one US Dollar
฿41 to one Pound Sterling
฿36 to one Euro
฿23 to one Australian Dollar
฿0.62 THB to one Philippine Peso

James

Working in Beijing, China

Monthly Earnings 200,000

Q1. How is that income broken down? (full-time salary, private students, on-line teaching, extra work, etc)

I moved to Beijing about a year ago having returned to the UK to complete a masters degree in TESOL. Prior to that I had worked in Chiang Mai for a year on about 40,000 per month. I now run a very successful language school with my Chinese girlfriend and my salary is direct from our business.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

We live north of Beijing so living costs are low. At the moment I save about 150,000 per month.

Q3. How much do you pay for your accommodation and what do you live in exactly (house, apartment, condo)?

We rent a one-bedroom apartment here and pay 20,000 per month. It's quite big and has all the mod cons.

Q4. What do you spend a month on the following things?

Transportation

Not much at all. I cycle to work and use Mobike which is pocket change each month. The subway and buses here are incredibly cheap compared to what I paid in UK. I can travel to the city centre (about hour on subway) for about 50p.

Utility bills

Included in rental fee.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

We tend to eat at home mostly as we both enjoy food shopping and cooking. Maybe once or twice a week, we'll eat out at restaurants. Per month I probably spend 15,000 baht.

Nightlife and drinking

Occasional drinker but rarely a nightclubber now I'm in my mid thirties. I enjoy a good Scotch whisky and bring couple bottles back every time I return home to visit parents. Per month I probably spend about 5,000.

Books, computers

I recently bought new laptop which was essential but should last the next 3 years or so. I'm an avid reader and probably get through five books a month. On average I probably spend between 5-10,000.

Q5. How would you summarize your standard of living in one sentence?

After many difficult years, I am now living a very successful and comfortable life.

Q6. What do you consider to be a real 'bargain' here?

Transport, as mentioned. It's incredibly cheap here and the subway is very efficient once I managed to work it out.

Q7. In your opinion, how much money does anyone need to earn here in order to survive?

Beijing is actually quite cheap if you have a partner or friend here to help you. To survive it's probably about the same as Bangkok at around 30-40,000. But there are so many great opportunities here in a rapidly advancing economy that with even half decent qualifications you can easily earn double that.

Phil's analysis and comment

Sounds like you are doing well James.  My sister-in-law opened a language school a good few years ago and I helped her as much as I could, but eventually it failed because of the poor location. In fact, the whole shopping complex failed to take off in the end. However, I bet a language school in China is a lucrative business if you can hit it right and it sounds like you and your partner have certainly done that. 


Ash

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 115,000

Q1. How is that income broken down? (full-time salary, private students, on-line teaching, extra work, etc)

I work in the high school section of an international school. I receive 115,000 baht after tax, including housing allowance. I have not engaged in any extra work at the moment, but may consider taking up some in the future.

To be honest, I left the previous work country due to the insane workload, expectation and stress. I didn't make the move to Bangkok just to slave away again!

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

I've only just started working in Bangkok for a few months, so I did spend quite a lot to start up. I have been tracking my expenses on a mobile app, so if I disregard the initial one-off purchases like household electronics, rental deposits etc., I am looking at around 50,000 baht savings per month. I would expect to save more once I'm properly settled in. Perhaps I'll do another cost of living survey then.

Q3. How much do you pay for your accommodation and what do you live in exactly (house, apartment, condo)?

I live on my own, and pay 12,000 baht per month for a 1-bedroom condo. It's about a 5-minute motorcycle ride to the nearest BTS station, but I don't need to take the BTS anyway as I'm fairly close to my workplace.

I did previously consider staying near BTS stations or where all the actions are, but paying minimum 20,000 for tiny 28 sqm boxes and the ironically longer commute just don't seem to be worth it. I tried staying a couple weeks in different studio apartments when I first got here, and while I appreciated having amenities right at my doorstep, the claustrophobia just got too real, too quickly.

Q4. What do you spend a month on the following things?

Transportation

My weekly commute on motorcycle taxis and weekends out come up to about 1,800 baht a month. I've come to realise that grab bikes are usually cheaper than motorcycle taxis, but local taxis (running on meter) are cheaper than grab taxis. Go figure.

Utility bills

Electricity, (tap) water, internet and phone cost me around 2,000 baht. I use the AC quite a lot, Bangkok's heat is just too relentless. I also have a drinking water delivery subscription that is around 250 baht a month.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

The school provides lunch, which I am very thankful for. I cook a lot and spent almost 8,000 baht on groceries this month (though that does include household items). On the rare occasions that I do eat out, it would average to around 300 baht per meal. I suppose I spend around 6000-9,000 baht a month on restaurant and food.

Some people say that shopping in local markets is cheaper than supermarket, but I have experienced being charged farang prices in local markets. Supermarkets just seem more reliable with their clear price tags, plus having AC while shopping is always preferred.

Nightlife and drinking

I do not drink, nor do I party. Entertainment would be the occasional movie in theatre, shopping in malls and markets, and thai massage. I find it hard to buy local-brand clothes and shoes that fit nicely, yet I am pretty reluctant to pay the inflated prices of imported brands. Most of my shopping in Bangkok is for 'home improvements'. Overall 3,000 baht a month for all that seems reasonable to me.

Books, computers

I do not spend money on books as I visit my school's library for that. This is an oddly niche section to have, I would say just placing 'other expenses' might be more insightful. I travel a bit, so a monthly average of 4,000 baht is spent on that.

Q5. How would you summarize your standard of living in one sentence?

Enjoying this new-found financial independence, living the way I want with a good amount of money to spare.

Q6. What do you consider to be a real 'bargain' here?

Food and transport, for sure. To put things into perspective, my food and transport expenses in Bangkok is only around 30% of what I would normally spend in my previous country, and I think I eat even better here.

Q7. In your opinion, how much money does anyone need to earn here in order to survive?

I've always lived in big cities, so although I don't consider myself to have a lavish over-the-top lifestyle, I think a minimum of 40,000 baht a month is needed or I wouldn't even come here.

On a side note, is it possible to add a search function to the cost of living section so we can filter surveys by locations?

Phil's analysis and comment

Thanks Ash for an interesting survey.

I've made a note of the points you make regarding the questions. Perhaps 'how much money do you need to survive?' might be better worded as 'how much money do you need to lead a decent lifestyle?' Then again, I'm sure lots of folk have just as many opinions on the definition of 'decent' as they do about the definition of 'survive'.  

Re-wording 'books and computers' to 'other expenses' is a good idea as well.  

And I believe a search function is not too far away!


DJ

Working in Nagoya (Japan)

Monthly Earnings 80,000

Q1. How is that income broken down? (full-time salary, private students, on-line teaching, extra work, etc)

75,000 baht for my salary and a further 5,000 baht for private tuition. I'm planning to do more private tuition in the future but the transport costs in Japan can eat into the hourly pay and unless the client is close, it's not so economically viable.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

A good month would be 40,000 baht but it's usually 28-35,000.

Q3. How much do you pay for your accommodation and what do you live in exactly (house, apartment, condo)?

I'm fortunate to be staying with my partner at her parent's 3-bedroom house. They charge me 15,000 baht a month for board.

Q4. What do you spend a month on the following things?

Transportation

6,300 baht. I gave up my car when I moved here and have been using the train. I'm thinking of getting a bike which is also very popular with Japanese people. My wife has an automatic, hybrid car but I can't get use to the sensitive brakes!

Utility bills

All included in my board.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

Food is in my board but I do pay for my own lunch. Bentos aren't cheap so maybe 3,000 baht a month for lunch. There are many restaurants that are reasonably priced, certainly not as expensive as I anticipated. There's a range from budget to mid value to fine dining ¥¥¥. We eat out at least once a week and alternate the bill. Possibly 2,700-3,000 a month. A monthly food shop would probably cost around 5,000 baht

Nightlife and drinking

I once bought a Guinness in Tokyo for £5 and Stella Artois in Japan is ridiculously expensive. Thankfully, I've developed a taste for the local brews and found cheaper bottled Guinness and imports. Shop around and use discount vouchers in newspapers. I've just passed my sell by date for nightclubbing so 1,600 baht a month.

Books, computers

The school gives me any books I ask for. However, I like to read and develop my language skills. 250 baht a month. My phone bill is 1,400 a month.

Q5. How would you summarize your standard of living in one sentence?

It's comfortable but I earned more money in England as a supply teacher and private tutor. Japan can be expensive if you allow it to be. Shop around and use second hand stores and there's money to save. The delicious food, low crime rate, pleasant natives, warmer climate and beautiful women does make for a more tranquil life. I feel that I need at least another year to immerse myself in order to judge the standard of living. There's definitely more for me to experience.

Q6. What do you consider to be a real 'bargain' here?

Clothing. Good quality material clothes are relatively inexpensive and second hand phones can be as well. Furthermore, old rusting bikes are ten a penny and can be had cheaply.

Q7. In your opinion, how much money does anyone need to earn here in order to survive?

In order to survive with few luxuries I would estimate approximately 180,000 yen (51,000 baht) a month. To feel like your getting ahead, maybe 245,000 yen (70,000 baht). 300,000 - 350,000 yen (85,000 - 100,000 baht) and you are very comfortable. However, this is all subjective.

Phil's analysis and comment

Thank you DJ for an interesting and honest survey there. 

In the 90's you used to hear a lot from teachers in Japan and in many ways, it always felt liked the streets were paved with gold for the TEFLer wandering around Asia.  However, Japan seems to have slipped under the radar over the last decade or so as a TEFL destination.  You hear plenty about China and the countries bordering Thailand, etc but no so much Japan.

I have always found Japan to be very reasonable for getting around, eating out, etc but of course, I have only seen it through the eyes of a tourist. I'm sure that if you are living and working there, your figure of 85,000 to 100,000 baht a month is what you would ultimately be aiming for. 


Cor Verhoef

Working in Nonthaburi

Monthly Earnings 60,000 baht per month

Q1. How is that income broken down? (full-time salary, private students, on-line teaching, extra work, etc)

60,000 is my monthly salary at the government school where I work. I rarely teach extra classes as I have a two-year old boy that I want to be with as much as possible.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

About 5,000 baht per month

Q3. How much do you pay for your accommodation and what do you live in exactly (house, apartment, condo)?

We bought a 3-bedroom house in Nonthaburi and we pay 12,000 baht a month on our mortgage. I'm not the sole breadwinner though. My wife brings in another 25,000 baht per month as a teacher.

Q4. What do you spend a month on the following things?

Transportation

4,000 baht on taxis all over the place.

Utility bills

electricity: 2,000 baht
water: 150 baht
garbage collection: 600 baht

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

Restaurants: about 6,000 baht. We like to eat out
Shopping: another 10,000 baht

Nightlife and drinking

We're not bar-hoppers (anymore). Probably 1,000 baht a month.

Books, computers

500 baht per month

Q5. How would you summarize your standard of living in one sentence?

We're well off and don't feel that we have to worry about money.

Q6. What do you consider to be a real 'bargain' here?

Housing, hands down, whether you rent or buy. In many countries, including some Asian countries, real estate prices have gone through the roof.

Food is still cheap and so are taxis. The flag-down rate of a cab is still 35 baht in Bangkok, just like it was when I moved here 18 years ago. I feel for these cabbies so I give them big tips.

Q7. In your opinion, how much money does anyone need to earn here in order to survive?

I think if you're single, 40,000 baht is required to live a decent life in a city like Bangkok. You could probably survive on 25,000, but that's surviving, not living. If you live in the sticks 30,000 would probably do.

Phil's analysis and comment

Thank you Cor. With that very useful 25,000 baht that your partner brings in, then a combined 85,000 baht a month for a couple with a very young child must be OK for Nonthaburi. And only 14% of that combined income is going on a nice three-bedroom property that will eventually be yours outright.  

Thanks for giving a shout out to the cabbies of Bangkok as well.  I feel the same as you. That 35 baht flagfall should have increased years ago. I just don't know how those guys survive; in fact, I'm sure in many cases they don't.  I always like to tip well too for those reasons.


Eric

Working in Chiang Mai

Monthly Earnings 60,000

Q1. How is that income broken down? (full-time salary, private students, on-line teaching, extra work, etc)

20-25 hours a week teaching English online with one company. That brings in about 40,000 baht. My real estate investment from the US brings in another 20,000 baht.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

Nothing, I have a newborn baby and stay at home with my fiancé preparing to go to America next month.

Q3. How much do you pay for your accommodation and what do you live in exactly (house, apartment, condo)?

We pay about 9,500 baht for our 2-bedroom, 2 bath-room house with parking and views of a private farm and small stream.

Q4. What do you spend a month on the following things?

Transportation

7,000 baht a month on our used car payments
3,200 baht a month on gas (we drive at least two hours a day including the commute for classes)

Utility bills

400 baht for electricity
620 baht for high speed internet
Nothing for water

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

8,000 baht a month shopping at track.
10,000 baht a month eating out at mid-priced restaurants.
6,000 baht a month eating out cheap.
Remember this is for 2 people.
Nothing for alcohol.

Nightlife and drinking

Nothing.

Books, computers

I spend at least $600 baht on books, electronics and paperbacks.

Q5. How would you summarize your standard of living in one sentence?

Upper middle class lifestyle.

Q6. What do you consider to be a real 'bargain' here?

Accommodation and Thai food. In Boston where I’m from this house alone would be more than 75,000 baht a month at least. Thai food in Boston is 300 baht or more for pad Thai or any Thai meal.
Also buying a condo or house, if you can get a home equity loan or any loan from America that can be amortized, it is a real bargain. The monthly amount is the same or less than renting the same place.

Q7. In your opinion, how much money does anyone need to earn here in order to survive?

I always thought this was a weird question. As a single person you could probably survive in Thailand on less than 10,000 baht a month if you have a small room with no AC, cooked and ate rice every day, slept most of the day, walked everywhere, didn’t drink, and got your water from the cheap refill stations around the city.

If you want to have a family and live a Western style middle-class lifestyle, you need more than 60,000 baht since doctor bills, baby costs, emergencies, and other random costs come up a lot. You could “survive” for less but to me surviving isn’t as good as enjoying life.

Phil's analysis and comment

I don't personally think there's anything 'weird' about the question 'how much do you need to earn to survive as a teacher in Thailand?'  The question implies how much would you need to earn to live a basic lifestyle.  Eating rice, drinking cheap water and lying on a bed all day is not living a basic lifestyle, that's barely existing. Good luck back in America anyway.


Come on! send us your cost of living surveys. We would love to hear from you! This is one of the popular parts of the Ajarn website and these surveys help and inspire a lot of other teachers. Just click the link at the top of the page where it says 'Submit your own Cost of Living survey' or click here.    


Showing 5 Cost of Living surveys out of 284 total

Page 1 of 57


Featured Jobs

NES Teachers

฿40,000+ / month

Thailand


English Teachers (NES or European)

฿32,000+ / month

Songkhla


Teachers (Full-time and Part-time)

฿36,500+ / month

Chon Buri


Qualified Year 7 Mathematics Teacher

฿90,000+ / month

Bangkok


English Conversation Teachers

฿35,000+ / month

Saraburi


ESL Teachers for May Start

฿33,000+ / month

Thailand


Featured Teachers

  • Matthew


    Canadian, 57 years old. Currently living in Thailand

  • Berna


    Turkish, 45 years old. Currently living in Turkey

  • Luke


    British, 32 years old. Currently living in Thailand

  • Aniza


    Filipino, 32 years old. Currently living in Philippines

  • Victor


    British, 29 years old. Currently living in United Kingdom

  • Michael


    British, 66 years old. Currently living in United Kingdom

The Hot Spot


Renting an apartment?

Renting an apartment?

Before you go pounding the streets, check out our guide and know what to look out for.


Can you hear me OK?

Can you hear me OK?

In today's modern world, the on-line interview is becoming more and more popular. How do you prepare for it?


Contributions welcome

Contributions welcome

If you like visiting ajarn.com and reading the content, why not get involved yourself and keep us up to date?


Teacher mistakes

Teacher mistakes

What are the most common mistakes that teachers make when they are about to embark on a teaching career in Thailand? We've got them all covered.


The dreaded demo

The dreaded demo

Many schools ask for demo lessons before they hire. What should you the teacher be aware of?


Will I find work in Thailand?

Will I find work in Thailand?

It's one of the most common questions we get e-mailed to us. So find out exactly where you stand.


Need Thailand insurance?

Need Thailand insurance?

Have a question about health or travel insurance in Thailand? Walter van der Wal from Pacific Prime is Ajarn's resident expert.